Lot of 3 CDVs of the boyish looking Pvt. Hiram G. Parker, all ink signed on verso, credited to G.A.M. Campbell: Jacksonville, Illinois; G. Hoffman: St. Louis, Missouri; and the last without a backmark. Inked on the Jacksonville view is, "Hiram G. Parker / U.S. Steamer Baltic / Comp. B. 1st Reg't Infty / Mississippi Marine Brigade," showing him wearing a plain fatigue jacket with eagle buttons and striped civilian cravat. The placket of the unusual collarless jacket appears to be trimmed with lighter colored infantry branch of service braid. The St. Louis image is signed, "Hiram G. Parker / Co. B. 1st Regt Inft / Miss Marine Brigade" and depicts Parker in the same collarless jacket, this time having a unidentified metal badge pinned to the breast. The third carte shows Parker with longer hair wearing a fatigue jacket having cloth epaulets, eagle buttons, and placket trim. Verso signed, "Hiram G. Parker / Flag Ship Autocrat / Comp. B. !st Reg't. Infty. / Miss Marine Brigade. / Gen. Ellett Commanding" with "Enlisted Jan. 1863" along the opposite border.
Hiram G. Parker (1845-1918) worked as a farmer in Jacksonville, Illinois when he enlisted as a Private in Company B, 10th Illinois Infantry on August 13, 1861. He was discharged on January 3, 1863 in order to enlist in the Mississippi Marine Brigade (MMB) serving with that ad hoc unit until it was formally disbanded in December 1864. Only cursory details are known of the continuum of Hiram Parker's post-war life, including his marriage in Illinois and subsequent migration to Kansas in 1870. He took a position as a prison guard at the State Penitentiary, after which he entered the general mercantile trade in Lansing. Parker died in San Francisco on December 31, 1918.
A number of different Illinois regiments supplied men to the innovative MMB, first commanded first by Charles Ellet, Jr. (1810-1862) and later his brother Alfred W. Ellet (1820-1895). Appointed Colonel of Engineers by Secretary of War Edward Stanton, the former civil Engineer Charles Ellet, Jr. oversaw the construction of the United States Ram Fleet in Cincinnati and commanded the fledgling force of converted river steamers against a Rebel flotilla at the Battle of Memphis, where he was mortally wounded. Alfred W. Ellet, formerly Lieutenant Colonel, 59th Illinois, assumed command of the Ram Fleet in June. He was promoted to Brigadier General in November 1862 after proposing a mixed force of infantry, cavalry, and artillery that never exceeded 850 men to act as "marines" aboard the roving Mississippi Ram Fleet. Ellet led the MMB during the Vicksburg Campaign in a series of smaller combined operations that generally reflected well upon the nascent command, despite complications of leadership. In the face of ongoing administrative problems and internal complaints, the Secretary of War ultimately scuttled the MMB in August 1864. At this point a number of long serving officers were relieved or discharged angering General Ellet, while the "marines" were removed from their vessels and assigned to shore duty in Vicksburg.
Identified Mississippi Marine Brigade images, particularly as nicely inked as these, are rare.
The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection
Cowan's is pleased to offer the first contingent of an unparalleled assembly of Brown Water Navy images archived over a lifetime of study by consummate collector Richard B. Cohen, a familiar name to many in the field of Civil War photography. To those who knew him best, Richard B. Cohen will be remembered as a "disciplined collector who maintained a relatively narrow focus having built an important, perhaps unsurpassed collection in his area of specialization." Richard was particularly well read and his historical knowledge informed his collecting as reflected by the photography that follows. The array of carte-de-visites and albumen photographs gathered here include a number of identified naval officers - both famous and obscure - along with a handful of enlisted sailors and Mississippi Marine Brigade images, and, significantly, many views of unique Brown Water Navy sidewheel and sternwheel warships - no two vessels looking exactly the same. Subjectively, the most appealing aspect of the Cohen Collection are the photographs of these gunboats, transports, and impressed vessels quickly converted at St. Louis, Cairo, and Cincinnati for duty on the waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The gamut of improvised warships range from the earliest types of steam powered vessels first taken up by the Army to create a small timberclad flotilla, to the several purpose-built War Department Ellet rams, and later, the more numerous classes of tinclads, some converted but all built for and crewed by the Navy. A few captured Confederate vessels impressed into Union service are also present. It is supremely evident that Richard B. Cohen's collecting instincts were always evolving, but uniformly refined. We trust that both advanced and neophyte collectors will find something to pique interest now that the time has come to inevitably recycle these exceptional images to a new cadre of aficionados.
Provenance:The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection
St. Louis bm CDV with clipped corners, all with minor wear and light soiling, VG+ Ink identifications on verso of all three cartes bold and clear.
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